1690051557 Trademark application Bell wants to get its hands on his

Trademark application: Bell wants to get its hands on “his” blue

Can a company “own” a color? That’s the question a federal agency must decide after Bell files a motion to trademark “his” blue.

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It’s Pantone 301, a shade of blue that Quebecers will be familiar with because they see it on the telecom giant’s logo, as well as all over the internet and on the company’s trucks.

Bell, which filed its application with the Canadian Intellectual Property Office on July 10, states that “the mark consists solely of the color blue ((PANTONE*301) without delineated outlines”).


Bell’s PANTONE*301 blue photo taken from the Canadian Intellectual Property Office website

“It seems strange, but it exists,” summarizes Richard Gold, a specialist at McGill University and director of the institution’s Center for Intellectual Property Policy.

If such a mark is accepted by the office, it will not prevent anyone from painting their room in Pantone 301.

“This means that you can no longer sell a product that could confuse the consumer,” continues the lawyer-turned-professor.

It will be exciting to see if shades of color can be trademarked, adds Professor Ejan MacKaay of the University of Montreal Law School.

To do what?

“It’s also interesting to ask why Bell wants to protect this distinguishing mark: what service does Bell want to distinguish from its competitors in the eyes of customers?” asks this other intellectual property expert.

Bell responds that the application “applies only to goods and services related to telecoms, media and advertising”.

Most notably, it emphasizes that others are doing the same since the “recent changes to trademark law.”

It dates back to June 2019 when new types of brands emerged, such as sound, smell and texture.


Coming back to the colors, it is true that other companies such as Interac (ochre), TD Bank (green) and Mastercard (red and yellow) have also applied to the Office for their distinctive colors to become trademarks.

“Even if these companies get what they want from the government, it won’t necessarily be valid,” says Professor Gold.

The court must decide whether competitors will sue the brand.

“In the case of Bell, you will argue that consumers do not necessarily think of Bell when they see blue,” summarizes the expert.

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